The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Mobile (river and bay)

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MOBILE, the name of a river and bay in the southern part of Alabama, derived from that of a tribe of Indians (the Mauvilians or Mobilians) who inhabited the adjacent country at the time of its first settlement by Europeans. The river Mobile is formed by the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee. A few miles below this point it divides into two branches, the eastern one of which takes the name of Tensas, the western retaining that of Mobile. Before reuniting, both these streams separate into several other subdivisions, all of which meet in one common embouchure at the head of Mobile bay. The length of the Mobile river is about 50 m., and its general direction is south. In the lower part of its course the banks are marshy and alluvial.—The bay of Mobile is about 30 m. in length from N. to S., with a general width of 10 or 12 m., except where it expands on the southeast into the subsidiary bay of Bon Secours, which extends some 8 or 10 m. further to the eastward. The entrance from the gulf of Mexico, between Mobile point on the east and Dauphine island on the west, is about 3 m. wide, and is commanded by Fort Morgan on Mobile point, and Fort Gaines on Dauphine island. The bay has another outlet on the southwest through Grant's pass, N. of Dauphine island, which communicates with Mississippi sound. Through this channel steamers and other vessels of light draught generally pass when plying between Mobile and New Orleans. The bar in front of the main entrance of the bay admits of the passage of vessels drawing 21 or 22 ft. The ordinary anchorage for ships is 4 or 5 m. within the entrance of the bay. The whole of the upper portion of the bay is shallow, and is supposed to be gradually filling up with sedimentary deposits from the rivers that flow into it. There is a lighthouse on Mobile point; another on Sand island, 3 m. S., immediately in front of the entrance; and one at the head of the bay, a little below the city of Mobile.